The lack of diversity in tech companies continues to be a problem. A 2019 report from the AI Now Institute (PDF) shows that only 2.5% of the workforce at Google is African-American, with Facebook and Microsoft each at 4%.

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the high-tech sector employs a larger share of whites (63.5%-68.5%) compared to any other race. Asian-Americans account for 5.8%-14%, African-Americans represent 7.4%-14.4%, and Hispanics make up 8%-13.9%. Whites also account for a higher percentage of executive roles in the US tech sector, comprising 83.3%; compare that to 2%-5.3% of African-Americans, 3.1%-5.3% of Hispanics, and 10.6%-19.5% of Asian-Americans in executive positions. Female representation in these roles is also lacking, with only 20% of women in executive roles at high-tech companies.

SEE: Transgender employees in tech: Why this “progressive” industry has more work to do to achieve true gender inclusivity (TechRepublic cover story)

Benefits of a more diverse workforce

The Kapor Center for Social Impact (PDF) lists some of the benefits for tech companies that embrace a more diverse workforce:

According to Stephanie Rodriguez, vice president of policy and engagement at, “Research shows that companies that hire more women, people of color, and traditionally underrepresented groups are rewarded with an innovation advantage.” Rodriguez added, “These companies produce answers to questions that cannot be answered from a singular point of view. A positive outgrowth of workplaces that include an intersectionality of race, gender, and culture is that the technology we are building will better represent the society for whom it is built.”

SEE: Women in tech: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

How tech companies can improve diversity and increase retention

In addition to fostering a healthy, inclusive company culture with extensive on-boarding for retention, companies can:

  • Utilize employee referrals: When Indiegogo wanted to shift its hiring focus to incorporate more diversity in its workforce, the crowdfunding website turned to its employees. From Indiegogo’s site: “By increasing referral bonuses and regularly announcing job openings internally, we saw that since 2017, referrals have accounted for 34% of all hires. We see in the hires that came from internal referrals during that time that 66% were female, and 61% were ethnically diverse.”

    According to PayScale, Facebook uses an internal points reward system; recruiters who find diverse candidates receive more points, which leads to higher performance reviews and offer potential bonuses.

  • Remove unconscious bias from the hiring process: G2 Crowd suggests using diverse analytics software to redact personal information (e.g., name, gender, age, ethnicity) from resumes, allowing recruiters to instead focus on factors like job skills, experience, and education. This software can also give companies a sense of how they compare to competitors when it comes to diversity.
  • Make sure HR hiring teams are representative of minorities: A study by STELLARES found that there is a connection between having minorities on HR teams in tech companies and minorities in the workforce. When there were no minorities in HR, only 20% of non-leadership teams were comprised of minorities, with 0% in leadership roles. When the HR team had a 100% representation of minorities, the company’s workforce was 40% minorities in non-leadership positions and 32% in leadership.
  • Be transparent: The authors of a report from the AI Now Institute (PDF) recommends publishing compensation levels for all job roles, and including race and gender information. The report’s authors also suggest publishing information about discrimination and harassment–the number and types of claims and the actions taken. Transparency extends to hiring practices; companies should be clear about how employees are “leveled, compensated, and promoted.”
  • Create a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) committee: To help with retention of minority employees, the authors of the Kapor Center for Social Impact report (PDF) explain that companies should create D&I committees that begin with CEO and executive team leadership, are comprehensive, implement multiple initiatives, measure effectiveness, and allow for changes when necessary.

    Indiegogo has implemented such a committee, which “coordinates volunteer events, pride parties, provide recommendations on joining amicus briefs for diversity-related court cases, organizes workshops on inclusion, and more.”

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